The Fisheries Agency of Taiwan has concluded its investigations into two longline vessels, one for illegal fishing activity and the other for violations of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C-188). Penalties have been applied in both cases.
Violations on board Fuh Sheng No.11 include failing to submit accurate catch report, employing foreign crew without authorisation, crew salaries lower that minimum wage, overtime working hours, contravention of labour contracts (early termination), and failing to provide suitable working and living conditions.
Fines of NT$3.75 million have been imposed and Fuh Sheng No.11’s fishing license is suspended for five months. In addition, for possible violation of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, the Agency has forwarded the case to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutor Office for further investigation.
The investigation into Fuh Sheng No.11 was conducted in three locations, and was launched as soon as the vessel was highlighted as being in contravention of the C-188 convention.
It was closely monitored after leaving Cape Town on 27th June by the Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC). When the vessel entered Kaohsiung on 13th September, the Agency then launched the second stage of its investigation.
The Fisheries Agency conducted its investigation jointly with the Marine Bureau and Labour Affairs Bureau of Kaohsiung City Government. The Agency interviewed the vessel operator, skipper, and employment agency of Fuh Sheng No. 11. In the second half of September, the Agency, with the assistance of an NGO, also acquires information through interviews with former crew members in Indonesia.
It was determined that salary level requirements, labour contracts, and living conditions and duty of care requirements for foreign crew were all contravened. In addition, crew members indicated that the skipper and a Filipino officer may have used violence against crew members
In the case of fishing vessel Chin Chang No.6, it was found that silky shark and oceanic whitetip shark had been illegally retained on board. As a result, fines of NT$11.4 million have been imposed on the vessel operator and the skipper, and the fishing license of the vessel is suspended for six months.
Fisheries Agency inspectors conducted a landing inspection on Chin Chang No. 6 on September 13. Throughout the whole process, photographs and video were taken for collecting evidence.
Over 30 metric tonnes of silky shark and oceanic whitetip shark were found in the holds, and all of the prohibited catch was confiscated.
The owner and skipper admitted the violation and a fine of NT$9.5 million is imposed on Chin Chang No. 6 operator and NT$1.9 million on the skipper, along with a six-month suspension of his certificate.
The illegal catch has been destroyed by the Agency.
According to the Fisheries Agency, the Taiwan government has transposed relevant conservation and management measures adopted by the international fisheries management organisations into its domestic law and regulations.
Penalty levels have also been significantly increased, and very heavy financial penalties can now be imposed, as well as suspension and revocation of licences.
‘The whole industry being shamed by the illicit activities of a few operators is the last thing that this Agency hopes for,’ a spokesman for the Taiwan Fisheries Agency said.
‘The Fisheries Agency will strengthen its efforts against those operators who disregard the rights and benefits of crew members, so as to ensure the protection of human rights and the sustainable development of the distant water fishing industry.’